Last edited: February 05, 2005

Bahrain Cracks Down on Gay Migrant Workers

Manila Times, July 11, 2002
371 A. Bonifacio Drive, Port Area, Manila, Philippines
Fax: 02-521-6897

By Joshua Dancel

The government of Bahrain has begun cracking down on homosexual migrant workers, including those who are Filipino.

Administrator Wilhelm Soriano of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said yesterday overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) found to be gay would be deported by Bahrain starting next week.

An Islamic state comprising 33 islands on the western side of the Persian Gulf, Bahrain embraces Islam which bans homosexuality. Its capital and largest city of Bahrain is Manama.

Soriano said the Bahraini government has already issued closure notices to about 500 beauty salons, massage parlors, flower and tailoring shops where gays are believed to be employed.

"Bahraini police suspected these shops and stores provide haven for illicit homosexual activities and prostitution," he said.

These service shops and stores employ about 2,000 gay Filipinos, he said.

Soriano said the Bahrain government would start padlocking these shops and deporting all homosexual OFWs.

He said the Philippine embassy has received numerous requests to make plead with the Bahrain government to give the workers at least six months, enough time for them to fi­nish their contracts and prepare for the trip home.

"Others have gone to courts see­king to defer the enforcement of the crackdown," he said.

Soriano said embassy officials and welfare officers are preparing an agreement with the host government as soon as official notification is sent to Philippine representatives.

The only setback that Soriano sees once Bahrain makes good its threat is that the embassy would be deluged with calls for help from runaway gay laborers.

"I’m expecting 2,000 gay workers to be affected, most likely to be sent home," Soriano said.

He did not say how many Filipinos work in Bahrain. There are more than a million Filipinos employed in the Middle East.

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